Telescopes Locate New Exoplanet In Milky Way

Thanks to a sighting via the US NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope in a partnership with Poland’s Optical Gravitational Lensing Experiment, or OGLE Telescope, a brand new exoplanet has been found in the Milky Way. The remote gas planet is at least 13,000 light years from Earth, making this adventure in planet finding one of the farthest known of its kind. These worlds are called “exoplanets” denoting that they circle a sun other than our own sun.

Two Telescopes Help Solve Mysteries of The New Exoplanet

The NASA Spitzer telescope is uniquely situated in space to be able to help astronomers solve the mysteries of not only this new exoplanet in the Milky Way, but for all of the other possible new planets, stars, and other items to be found some day in the universe. It is part of the big adventure of searching the skies to figure out how and where planets are situated in our Milky Way galaxy.

Astronomers working with the Spitzer Telescope in the US, as well as those partnered up with them working with the OGLE Telescope in Poland, are both scanning the area looking for exoplanets. The OGLE Telescope, which is at the Las Campanas Observatory, actually located in Chile, uses a method called microlensing to look for new exoplanets.

Microlensing Methods That Helped Find The New Exoplanet

Microlensing is a process by which, when one star or sun goes in front of another, the gravity it produces can be used just like a lens to help brighten and enlarge the other star’s light. Plus, if the star in the foreground is circled by one of these exoplanets they are seeking, it shows up as a blip on the magnified screen so the astronomers can see it.

Microlensing techniques help astronomers see and document exoplanets as far as 27,000 light years from the Earth, and by using this method the OGLE telescope has so far found 30 such exoplanets. This in turn helps scientists to figure out how planets are distributed throughout the Milky Way galaxy.

Other Tools Also Find New Exolanets

There are other astronomers joining in the adventure of looking for exoplanets besides the ones who found this latest new Milky Way exoplanet via the Spitzer and OGLE telescopes. For instance, the NASA Kepler Mission has already discovered over a thousand exoplanets. However, this method isn’t always exact in determining how far away those exoplanets are from the planet Earth.

However, through the partnership of the two telescopes, the astronomers and other scientists can use both microlensing methods, as well as help calculate the position of a new exoplanet because the Spitzer telescope is circling the sun about 128 million miles from Earth, so it is in a better position to see the distant planets and stars in space as it makes its travel around the sun. So, thanks to these two telescopes, as well as other methods being used, astronomers are continuing the adventure of finding other worlds besides our own such as this new exoplanet in our Milky Way.

For more on the fascination with everything up in the sky, watch this episode of “Wanderlust” titled appropriately: